Do you care about the environment, but still want beautiful hair that looks and feels great?
I do too! That’s why I set out to find an eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner that is zero waste, palm oil free and does not harm the planet.
Despite what the big brands might have you believe, it is possible to get an organic shampoo that is cruelty free. One that uses natural ingredients like coconut oil, argan oil and aloe vera juice to give your hair a healthy shine without harming our planet.
Not only that, the best zero waste shampoo and conditioner brands are free of harsh chemicals, and don't contribute towards plastic pollution.
You can feel good knowing that when you buy these products, you are helping to make a difference in the world.
They Say: It all started back in 2012 when Brianne started mixing formulas up in her kitchen at her Christchurch (New Zealand) home. Back then, plastic-free wasn't the huge concern that it is for many today. Solid beauty bars weren’t a ‘thing’ and they definitely weren’t available from your local supermarket - or even Amazon.
We Say: Ethique take the top spot for two reasons:
Ethique is one of the pioneers of the solid beauty bar game.
Their shampoo and conditioner bars are totally zero waste. Simply unwrap the bar and throw the packaging in your compost bin.
I’ve recommended the sampler pack because I feel it’s the best way for you to test out a selection of their most popular products at the same time.
It also makes a fantastic gift.
You get three shampoo bars (Frizz Wrangler, Heali Kiwi, St Clement) and two conditioner bars (The Guardian, Wonderbar).
These bars are sample-sized. However, due to the high concentration of natural ingredients used, they last a long time.
One of the standard-sized bars lasts approximately the same time as three standard bottles of liquid shampoo. That’s less plastic used and more money saved!
Ethique cares deeply about what they do and has an impressive list of eco-credentials.
I especially like that they donate 2% of sales to charity and plant a tree (or mangrove) for every order.
As of 15 May 2021, they’ve planted over 212,500 trees and offset over 1,167 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Ethique products meet the Compact by Design and Climate Pledge Friendly guidelines managed and certified by Amazon. Check out our A-Z of Eco Labelling article for more details.
Pop into your bathroom and do a plastic bottle audit.
Are you shocked by the level of plastic bottles that have snuck their way into the shower, bath, under the sink, and into the vanity unit?
Plastic bottles are piling up in oceans and landfills, and the problem is getting worse every day.
The global plastic waste data makes scary reading.
Fortunately, there are plenty of small swaps you can make daily to help stem the plastic tide and move towards a zero waste lifestyle.
A staggering 550 million shampoo bottles are thrown out by U.S. consumers every year!
It’s not all doom and gloom, though.
Eco-conscious consumers like you are fighting the good fight and switching to zero waste and plastic-free alternatives all around the house.
In our Eco-Friendly Toothpaste article, we gave toothpaste the zero waste treatment. Now it’s the turn of shampoo.
My dear old mum ran a hairdressing business from our family home for decades before she retired.
Big chunks of my childhood were spent watching her cut, crimp, perm, and straighten hair.
The smell of perm solution instantly takes me straight back to our back porch (mum’s favorite cutting spot) in my early years.
I’d like to think I picked up a thing or two over the years and know my onions when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. Plus...I’m using more of it myself these days after deciding to grow my hair out a little longer.
SPOILER ALERT: I now love a zero waste shampoo bar, so all of my top best eco-friendly shampoo picks are in bar form.
Bars not for you? Don’t worry. I have your back too.
Later on, I review some of my favorite bar alternatives...and even give you an awesome shampoo recipe you can easily make at home.
They Say: This nourishing Shampoo Bar is made with Castor Oil to create a deeply conditioning, creamy lather that cleans and cares for your locks and scalp. A long-lasting, compact bar with the relaxing essential oils of Lavender and Rose Geranium. Castor oil has been used for centuries as a natural hair conditioner and scalp treatment and is combined with coconut oil and olive oil to produce a rich, moisturising, nourishing shampoo.
We Say: This shampoo bar from Friendly Soap was a bit of a surprise hit for me.
Before starting the research for this article, I was unaware of the Friendly Soap brand...but it’s now a firm favorite of mine.
Friendly Soap products are handmade in the UK using an all-natural palm oil free recipe.
Their shampoo bars produce a lovely rich lather and do a fantastic job of getting your hair clean.
It left my hair feeling soft and easy to style without stripping the natural oils and moisture.
To get optimum softness (especially for frizzy hair and curly hair), I recommend pairing it with the Lavender & Geranium Conditioner Bar.
They Say: Our Coconut Shampoo Bar is loaded with all natural, plant based ingredients that will provide your locks with a big gulp of moisture WITHOUT weighing it down! After just one use, you’ll notice that your hair feels softer, more hydrated, and tangle free. PLUS - it offers a luxurious (naturally derived) lather and smells like a vacation in the tropics.
We Say: The Etee coconut shampoo bar makes every shower time smell like a tropical vacation.
Get me a deck chair, a pina colada, and a good book, and I could almost be in Maui. ALMOST!
Pair this with the Coconut Conditioner Bar for best results.
When formulating their shampoo and conditioner bars, Etee took the simple approach. They took inspiration from their favorite liquid products and removed all the water. Genius!
I’ve been aware of Etee for a while and James has already recommended their zero waste toothpaste in a previous article. I love that their plastic-free ethic extends to everything they sell.
They Say: Cleans without stripping hair and scalp of protective oils. Sulfate free, silicone free and paraben free. Contains no harsh detergents and no transition period required. Soap-Free shampoo, made with organic argan oil and scented with sweet orange & lemongrass essential oils.
We Say: Aspen Kay Naturals claims that this shampoo bar needs no transition period. Meaning that you should be able to seamlessly switch from your traditional shampoo to this shampoo bar with no noticeable deterioration in the cleanliness of your hair.
This was a claim I was very keen to test out, so I made sure this was the first shampoo bar I tested.
Aspen Kay Naturals were true to their claim. I didn’t notice any difference when switching to this citrus shampoo bar from my long-standing usual shampoo.
My hair was just as clean as always. If anything, it was softer and shinier.
If you’ve read James' Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products article, you’ll know he's got a bit of a ‘thing’ for the smell of orange, and that's something we have in common.
If you too share my (very mild) obsession with orange smells...you’ll love this shampoo bar.
The scent comes from sweet orange and lemongrass essential oils. It’s not overpowering and doesn’t smell artificial.
Not sure if these little zero waste shampoo bars save much plastic? Aspen Kay Naturals have calculated that each of their bars is the equivalent of three 6oz bottles of liquid shampoo.
They Say: Handmade of coconut oil and cocoa butter based, this zero waste shampoo bar will leave your hair soft, clean, and nourished without stripping away your natural oils or hair color. Our eco-friendly shampoo bars are unisex and work great for all hair types. Oh and they're 100% plastic-free & travel friendly, too!
We Say: EcoRoots is one of my go-to websites for sustainable, earth-friendly, conscious, and plastic-free products.
So when I discovered they had their own range of shampoo bars, I had to give them a try.
Their range is impressive:
So many to choose from...but only one has my name all over it...Forest Mist!
Nah...only joking...I went for Citrus Fresh.
The uplifting scent of organic sunny citrus fruits, apricot, mandarin, grapefruit, and oranges was like catnip to my senses. I really couldn’t get enough.
Our friends at EcoRoots have knocked it out of the park with these palm oil free shampoo bars.
A bit of eco-friendly luxury for your hair….without damaging the planet. Plus, with so many scent combinations, you’ll never get bored with your hair care routine again.
To keep your shampoo and conditioner bars in A1 condition, I recommend getting a container or soap dish.
Steer clear of plastic and go for one made from natural and sustainable materials.
This bamboo and sugar cane option from Ethique does a great job of protecting your bars and nature.
They’re even available in multiple color options to match most bathroom color schemes.
For me, shampoo and conditioner bars are the best way to get clean hair and a clean eco-conscience.
I am, however, mindful that some of you want to stick with liquid shampoo and conditioner.
Shipping bottles of products that are mainly water around the globe is not great for the planet...but there are still ways to reduce the impact as much as possible.
They Say: Refill, reuse, rejoice! Plaine Product's Refillable Vegan Shampoo + Conditioner Set is the zero waste way to bring unruly and unmanageable hair back to life, using the power of nature to moisturize and soften every strand. Packaged in a 16oz reusable aluminum bottle, this unique shampoo and conditioner set is organic, hypoallergenic, color-safe, baby-safe, biodegradable, and cruelty-free, with no animal testing.
We Say: This refillable vegan shampoo and conditioner set is at the pricier end of the scale.
It’s a thick and luxurious product, though, so a little goes a long way. These big 16oz bottles will last you ages.
The shampoo and conditioner come in reusable aluminum bottles.
When you place your first order, you can choose to have a pump top included at no extra cost. All future refill orders will come without the pump top to save plastic so remember to keep your existing one.
The empty bottle can be washed out and reused. They would make great bottles for your attempts at homemade shampoo. Read more about this later in the article.
If you don’t have a use for the empty bottle, click here to arrange to return it free of charge and Plaine Products will clean it and reuse it.
Both the shampoo and conditioner are great all-round products. They’re suitable for the whole family and most all hair types.
They Say: This lightly-lathering shampoo washes away grit and grime, without stripping your hair of naturally occurring oils. Deeply nourishing essential oils pair with a light scent of sea salt and bergamot in this natural daily cleanser. When you're done, simply remove and compost the paper exterior and recycle the inner recycled plastic liner. While taking apart the bottle you'll even find a secret packet of plantable seeds!
We Say: This neat alternative uses around 60% less plastic than traditional plastic shampoo bottles.
When the bottle is empty, simply pull the inner plastic liner away from the paper outer. The plastic can be recycled. The paper can be composted.
It’s not just all about the eco-friendly packaging. The shampoo inside is another great all-rounder packed full of high-quality natural ingredients.
Seed Phytonutrients also have you covered if you have specific hair needs that might need a bit more attention.
They also do options for color-treated hair, dry hair, curly hair, and frizzy hair. You can shop the full range here.
Now...pay attention here…it’s about to get complicated!
Put all the ingredients in an old shampoo bottle and give it a good shake.
You’re now the proud owner of the best zero waste shampoo you’ve ever made. But how do you use it to get the best results?
Once again. It’s really not very complicated. You just pretty much use it as you would conventional shampoo.
This homemade shampoo will be thinner than what you’re used to, and it won’t lather up as much...if at all!
However, with a bit of practice, you’ll know exactly how to use to get all the grease and grime out of your hair.
Have a play around with the measurements and ingredients until you fix the perfect mix for you.
If, for example, you want a fully organic shampoo, then just use organic ingredients.
According to Meraki Hair & Makeup Studio, “1A is the rarest hair type. It is usually found on people of Asian descent”.
According to Nutrafol, there are 15 ingredients you should try to avoid when shopping for eco-friendly shampoo:
Look out for eco-friendly shampoos with more natural ingredients and certifications, such as:
According to Bevoir, “Tresemme products often contain sulfates and salts, which can be damaging for your hair. Often when you read the label on a Tresemme shampoo, you will notice that the first ingredient listed is a sulfate such as ammonium laureth sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate”.
The best eco-friendly shampoo is one that cleans your hair and does not dirty the planet.
Every recommendation in this article ticks all the eco-friendly boxes for me.
If you don’t find a brand that meets your eco-friendly ideals, then make your own. It’s fun, easy and you’re in total control of what goes in the mix.
Where do you buy your best eco-friendly shampoo? Have I missed your favorite organic shampoos for healthy hair? Drop me a line and let me know.